Updated: Apr 17
David Brent is a cultural icon of how not to do leadership. Deluded. Irritating. Arrogant. Sexist. Foolish and above all utterly ignorant to the fact that he was totally incompetent. Ring any bells?
Even though he is a caricature of many business leaders, it is still astounding to me that in many well known and successful companies we still find 'Brentitus' sweeping the board rooms and plush offices up and down the country.
It's about time as business leaders we stop, look around and take stock because the world continues to change at a rate of knots, and we will soon be left in the dark ages of the 1980s leader if we don't act. With this in mind, I want to introduce the 5 core leadership qualities that I believe are critical to bringing us back to a level of ability that truly means business in the modern age.
Humility - the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”
- Andrew Carnegie
Humility is something that is almost impossible to learn but is one of the major factors in influence and inspiration. We all want to be led by someone who knows that we are the most important element within the whole process of succeeding and they will inspires us to find our best selves. Gone are the days of shouting and screaming orders - thank goodness. Bullying in the workplace has surely had its day. Today is more about empowering others to achieve and grow plus understanding that employee engagement is more important than ever.
Visionary - thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.
New age leadership needs people to know where the organisation is going today, this month, this year and beyond. They need to be able to bring this vision to life in the form of a mission or purpose plus a simple set of strategic actions that everyone can relate to and feel compelled to deliver in each and every moment. Put aside tasks and lists. We need to be outcome focused and action orientated. Let's make company culture at the forefront of our thinking.
Engaging - charming and attractive
"An organisation's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage."
— Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric
Employees need to believe in something and someone. They don't come to work simply to do a job. They enjoy being connected to something that has a purpose. They like friendships that are formed and the colleagues they share their purpose with. And they demand a level of flexibility in their working practices. Smart leaders create movements - not jobs. They encourage cultures of learning - not outdated training course where in the first week we are crammed together in a over heated box and disengaged within the first 20 mins.
The world now allows us to work from anywhere so the 9 - 5 desk job is dead. Remote working is here so embrace it! Modern leadership is knowing how to leverage trust and be trustworthy. It's about knowing how to be mindful. Its also knowing how to lead in these new virtual worlds. Leave your fear of change at the door.
Agile - able to move quickly and easily.
Allow freedom in your business. Micro managing simply does nothing but irritate and frustrate the very people you are supposed to be inspiring. Empower people by aligning the new culture to their personal role and showing them how vital they are to the big picture. Give them autonomy and allow space for failure. Yes - that's correct - I did say failure. Success cannot happen without falling a little. Being flexible enough to know that to learn something we need the confidence to try first and then use creativity and grit to pull through.
New age leadership is also about knowing that we can no longer just force people to focus and work-hard, especially when there are so many distraction around us. If you stop people using YouTube and Facebook you are removing major opportunities for staff to learn and grow. Become more time constructive - not time destructive. Take stuff away and people will still find a way plus they'll be less inclined to tell you.
The modern workplace should be designed to allow people to find new ideas and solve problems. Give them space and yes - a sense of freedom.
Collaborative - produced by or involving two or more parties working together.
People want to work with you - not for you.
Lets bring our team members and departments together. Communication is now more fracutured than ever as we rely on emails, texting and whatsapp. These shortcuts mean we are failure ourselves and above all the relationships we need to build, be it with our people or our customers. We rush around thinking that time is the problem when actually it's our communication and strategy. If we could actually sit down and plan where our time should go, then we could find the discipline to make each day count. We need to invest in more agile learning and coaching so that our skills and awareness can improve. We need to review our approach to meetings and not see packing each day with 5 or 6 group disucssions as productive. Don't just talk at bewildered individuals who are looking at every opportunity ot leave the room so they can go and do some 'real work'.
Create tribes of winners. Individuals who like to talk the talk and walk the walk. People who understand consequences and how these can impact on their colleagues.
The good news is that there is so much opportunity out there. To find new talent. To gain access to new ideas and to learn anything. To meet interesting people and to expand your social circle. To create more awareness and build your cognitive muscles. The world is now almost limitless so lets change it for the better.
As you read this article and feel you want to know more about how to adopt some of these qualities into your leadership programme for next year and beyond, then feel free to join my Facebook groups Oliver Thompson Training and mindsethacks for entrepreneurs and business owners or simply get in touch.